Monday, August 17, 2015

Where Can I Find True Beauty?

This week's linkup for #wholemama is all about the word beauty.

What is beauty?

I used to think it meant having a slim figure with nice facial features, makeup just so, polish on nails, both fingers and toes. As far as I was concerned I didn't measure up. I always thought my stomach stuck out a little too far, because it wasn't completely flat like some of the girls I knew. I often felt inferior. I know now that it was my own imagination feeding me lies. Real beauty is not measured in how nice a person looks.

Real beauty comes from within.

I was always looking for ways to improve myself. I wanted to look good and feel good, but I still struggled with comparing myself to others. That comparison bug tries hard to defeat us, doesn't it? I would spend time reading aloud and recording my voice in order to improve it. I was particular about my clothes, and they had to look a certain way or I felt like they either made me look fat or unattractive.

Then I got pregnant.

I was dealing with nausea and could hardly eat anything. Peanut butter, crackers and cokes are what I had most the first few months. I know that was a pretty poor diet, but I just couldn't stomach anything else. I lost seven pounds during the first three months, and managed to keep my weight gain to a minimum by the end of the pregnancy. 

During my pregnancy I was excited about the fact that a new life was growing within me, and I guess there is a certain beauty about a pregnant woman. The older ladies in my church would always compliment me. They would tell me I had that pregnancy glow. I'm sure their comments helped me feel better about myself.

(At a shower before my first was born)

I was not at all prepared for the fact that none of my pre-pregnancy clothes fit after my first child, a daughter, was born. In fact, I was horrified that I had nothing to wear. My mom happened to have pants that were elastic in the waist and were loose fitting, so I wore her clothes for a couple of weeks. Then we went out shopping for me to find things I liked that would also fit. No one had prepared me for the fact that it would take a few months to get back down to my regular size.

If only I had realized back then that beauty doesn't depend on size.

That first year of being a mother was quite a learning experience. There were times when I wondered what I had gotten myself into. Gone was all my free time, and when my daughter was a year old I took care of one year old twins two days a week. It was like having triplets. I didn't have time to think about beauty.

( Sara and the twins)

We never had a lot of money so I had to learn to be creative.

I've always been drawn to artistic pursuits so it was fun to draw and decorate a calendar to cross off the days during the last month of my first pregnancy. I made my own invitations for children's birthday parties, decorated their cakes in a special way, and found creative things to do for the children to have fun. At the time I never thought about any of that having to do with beauty.

Beauty is so much more than looking good or having things arranged certain ways.

  • Beauty is sometimes seen in our actions, in how we treat ourselves and others.
  • Beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and forms.
  • Beauty can be found in unexpected places.
  • Beauty comes in speaking words of kindness or sharing a smile.

  • To see people helping people is a beautiful thing.
  • Spending time doing things together with our families is a beautiful thing.
  • Watching an older child be gentle and helpful to a younger sibling is a beautiful thing.
  • Nature is full of beautiful things like sunsets, rainbows, all manner of flowers and creatures.
  • Sunshine brings a smile to my face as it highlights nature's beauty.
  • Rain can be beautiful as it falls down in sheets drenching the ground.

Beauty is all around us.

Even when I fall short of my expectations or feel unloving and unlovely, beauty can still be found. I might be so absorbed in my own troubles that I forget to look around and be thankful. I forget to ask for help. I forget that another kind of beauty can be found when I allow others to help rather than trying to be strong and self sufficient. I forget that God meets us right where we are and gives us hope. That is also beauty.

I'm asking God to open my eyes to the beauty that is right here in the midst of my mess.

I want to realize anew that beauty starts with an attitude of the heart, to know that I don't have to have my act together to embody real beauty. I want the light of Christ to shine through me illuminating all those who cross my path, encouraging them to realize their own true beauty.

Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

(I Samuel 16:7b)

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